Barry Schwabsky

  • Julian Trigo

    Julian Trigo’s paintings are more readily thought of as drawings on canvas. This is not only because of the medium used—charcoal on a uniform color ground in each work—but because of the sketchy linear style, and above all the intimate, quasi-pornographic nature of the imagery, which has a richer tradition in drawing than in the more public art of painting.

    Trigo depicts children rapt in somehow innocent yet twisted erotic delvings. This is definitely a pregenital phase—the sex play is all mouths and hands. The sense of personal boundaries breaks down; it becomes hard to say where one body ends

  • Ross Bleckner

    Selected from work ranging from 1985 to the present, this show consisted of some two hundred small paintings, mostly on canvas but a few on paper, as well as a single large painting (made specifically for this exhibition) representing the brick wall of Ross Bleckner’s studio with a number of the works shown here laminated onto it. The paintings may be rough and informal or, more often, quite elaborately worked, but in either case tend to project their autonomy and their contingency at once. While Bleckner’s larger works always seem to involve themes of mourning and ascension, vision and

  • Sean Scully

    Without the boxiness of his previous work, Sean Scully’s new paintings are certainly less physically overbearing. Each large canvas contains a smaller, inset one that evokes projections collapsed back onto their supports—as though Scully wanted you to remain aware enough of their former invasiveness to give the paintings credit for holding back. With the single exception of a work appropriately titled Red Way, 1992, Scully’s palette here is an unusually extended range of grays; two diptychs (Calling, 1992, and As Was, 1993) include steel elements that fit right into the tonal schema which is

  • Willem de Kooning

    Willem de Kooning’s art has fallen into a strange twilight since Elaine de Kooning’s death and the subsequent legal battle over his guardianship. No new paintings of de Kooning’s have been exhibited since 1987, but those were of a breathtaking incisiveness and allusive economy—among the artist’s greatest works. As some of us continue to wonder just what his extraordinary work of the mid ’80s might have led to—and anticipate the de Kooning painting retrospective at the National Gallery—we can be grateful for having had the opportunity to reconsider another of the most vibrant parts of his career,

  • Thomas Nozkowski

    It’s a considerably more delicate problem than usual to articulate the unity of viewpoint or sensibility that is nonetheless everywhere palpable in Thomas Nozkowski’s paintings. These small abstract paintings, and only slightly smaller drawings, combine rectilinear geometry with biomorphic wobbliness as easily as their facture ranges from the most feinschmecking scumbling to correctly Modern hard-edged directness. Each painting is the result of many pentimenti, visible as traces within the surface, though the results show no evidence of vacillation; every image feels decisive, precise, as

  • Leon Golub/Nancy Spero

    “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” This chilling observation of Walter Benjamin’s is nowhere more fully taken to heart than in the work of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero. A two-part presentation surveyed work from the last four decades, first with selections from the ’60s and ’70s, then from the ’50s and ’90s. Welcome as it was, the first half of the exhibition was the less surprising. During the period it covered, Golub’s and Spero’s oeuvres were complementary, each faithfully situated in a distinct sphere. What the second part of the show

  • Dan Christensen

    Is it merely “camp” to enjoy the latter-day production of a second-generation Color Field painter? Perhaps. In the case of Dan Christensen’s new work, one can easily tick off some of the salient points raised by Susan Sontag’s canonical essay of 1964. These paintings uphold artifice and stylization over beauty; in fact, they could serve as didactic examples of how to push devices meant to be seductive to the point where they actually become visually painful. They are indeed neutral with regard to the notion of content, almost as if the artist had set out to revise Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb

  • Leslie Wayne

    Last year, Leslie Wayne curated a group show with the demurely categorical title of “Painters,” placing her own work in the company of paintings by artists such as Milton Resnick and Jake Berthot, among other, less-well-known cultists of the hand. If that’s really what she means by “painter,” however, then she’d best find a more pertinent rubric for herself. I’m reminded instead of what Cézanne is supposed to have called Courbet: “A builder. A crude mixer of plaster. A pulverizer of tones. He masoned like a Roman.” Wayne is capable of treating paint with great delicacy, as the brooding atmospherics

  • Alex Katz

    The bland, unruffled look of high cool that typifies both the people Alex Katz por- Fabian Marcacclo, The Altered Genetics of trays, and the way he paints them, can be read either as a Warholian blankness and emphasis on surface, or as harboring the moodily passive ambiguities and dreamy distances of a Fairfield Porter landscape. At first glance, it might appear that Katz’s free-standing cutouts would weigh in heavily on the surface-and-blankness side of the scale. Such stage-set-like figures seem to argue for a view of personality as facade, and, formally, to work as much against the possibility

  • Fabian Marcaccio

    Fabian Marcaccio uses the conventional elements of Modernist practice in an artificially rule-bound, self-conscious, and non-idiomatic way to create not a chain of orderly communicative utterances but peculiar and estranging sequences that, for all their blatancy, continually short-circuit any effort to comprehend them. This work speaks Painting as a Foreign Language.

    This exhibition consisted of a series of five paintings titled “The Altered Genetics of Painting,” 1992–93. The paintings, closely allied in color, in some respects seemed to form a quasi-narrative cycle, yet were also self-contained.

  • Michael van Ofen

    It took only a glance at Michael van Ofen’s first exhibition in the U. S. to peg him as one of Gerhard Richter’s former pupils. What identified van Ofen as such wasn’t simply his evident concern with the relation between painting and photography, the slippage between abstraction and representation. More important is the way such essentially formal concerns can be seen as a means of registering the weight of history through reticence and distance, through an “objective,” methodical approach that might just as easily have fallen into solipsism. The paintings in this show (all works untitled, 1992)

  • Lisa Yuskavage

    This exhibition included both paintings and watercolors. In each of the paintings, a seductive, candy-colored monochrome field is inhabited by a single figure, creating a kind of imaginary portrait of a young girl. It’s really the color that hits first: saturated, lurid, aggressively confectionary—cloying hues that speak of manipulation, of some terrible abstraction from reality, of what your mother told you never to take from strangers. The figures seem to be surfacing from somewhere inside the field while remaining very much within its atmosphere.

    Sometimes naked, sometimes partly clothed,

  • Anton Solomoukha

    Since 1991 the paintings of Anton Solomoukha, an artist born in Kiev but living in Paris, have been playing with imagery derived from a catalogue of mechanical toys printed in the ’20s. Not surprisingly, nostalgia and reverie are key elements of these pictures. Yet they are about everything but naiveté or innocence. In earlier paintings from the series, shown in a four-person exhibition at this gallery in 1991, the images from the catalogue—not always recognizable in the paintings as being of toys—were mixed with fragments of nude figures, or rather fragments of pictures of nudes, since, like

  • Pat Steir

    Pat Steir’s new paintings, exhibited under the Goethean title “Elective Affinities,” continue to rehearse the abstractly generated waterfall imagery that has preoccupied her for the last several years. As before, a vehement, loaded stroke at the top of the canvas allows thinned paint to drip down, evoking falling water, while below some flung splashes à la early Norman Bluhm represent the water’s upward splash. What’s new is that Steir has renounced the grisaille to which this series had been confined in favor of intense—not to say lurid—color. In one sense, however, Steir’s use of color remains

  • Matthew Weinstein

    Matthew Weinstein’s newest work underlines the curious fact that a young artist does not always develop most propitiously by becoming more “mature.” It is quite possible to progress by means of regression; art must be able to retreat, consciously, to unself-consciousness, however false. Weinstein’s giddy, sexual, sometimes psychedelic new paintings made me realize that his earlier work was trying too hard to be serious and consistent, to create a signature style that in and of itself would communicate some content with an inarguable claim to the viewer’s attention. Recent discussions of “content”

  • Mat Collishaw

    As far as can be told from these shores, the recent wave of young phenoms from Goldsmith’s College in London has consisted mostly of practitioners of a remote, formal, yet quirky abstraction that somehow turns out to derive from quotidian forms and materials: Angela Bulloch and her pulsing light fixtures; Gary Hume of the door paintings; Marcus Taylor with his frosty Plexiglas boxes based on appliance packaging; and Rachel Whiteread and her plaster casts of rooms. As his first American exhibition attests, Mat Collishaw is clearly up to something else.

    Called In The Old Fashioned Way, 1992, his

  • Brenda Zlamany

    Brenda Zlamany’s works depict the bodies and parts of bodies of slaughtered animals, of human cadavers, and, for the first time, quite living friends. Isolating each represented object in a dark, glassy, anonymous space that, in its reflectiveness suggests a mirror more than a window, her representational technique vaguely recalls that of certain 17th-century Dutch still-life painters who managed to combine austerity with opulence. Her forms emerge not only as delicately yet richly colored, but as highly tactile and quite material. This tactility is particularly effective in a portrait of Bill

  • Ellsworth Kelly

    Piet Mondrian painted flowers; Ellsworth Kelly draws plants—has done so regularly since the late ’40s. The selection of “Plant Drawings” in this show included works from 1960–69, and from 1980 to the present; apparently Kelly did fewer of these in the ’70s. There is little sense of development over time in these works, which only adds to their air of objectivity, to the feeling that they are exercises in something other than style. What draws “absolute” abstractionists to the botanical? When Kelly says, “I found an object and ‘presented’ it as itself alone. . . . It had to be exactly as it was,

  • Farrell Brickhouse

    Farrell Brickhouse is clearly unafraid to make a mess. In a statement about one of his paintings a few years ago, he spoke of a “need to dive into the muck to come up with my jewel of truth.” Somewhere along the line, Brickhouse’s brand of gritty yet lyrical gestural painting went out of fashion, probably because too many of its practitioners seemed to have convinced themselves that pushing paint around was enough. Brick-house clearly knows better. His impasto shows signs of both unaffected self-indulgence and genuine struggle, but usually he stops short of letting either one become an end in

  • Marilyn Lerner

    As many critics have noticed, Marilyn Lerner’s eccentrically shaped, hard-edged abstract paintings often seem like playful yet exacting conflations of Russian Constructivism and Suprematism, on the one hand, and South Asian art—particularly Tantric—on the other. It’s a rare synthesis—centrifugal dynamism from one source, contemplative metastasis from the other—but one that’s compellingly achieved in her best work.

    An inveterate traveler to Asia, as well as a long-standing admirer of its traditional arts, Lerner, in early 1991, became more actively involved with Asian art by studying Indian gouache